The following statement was released April 17 by Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Dallas.
Supporters of women’s rights must condemn the attempt by Texas legislators to use the failed Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act to legitimize ever more severe restrictions on the right of women to control their own bodies. This bill sought to allow criminal prosecution of women who have an abortion and doctors who perform them and subject them to the death penalty.
The Texas House of Representatives did pass the “born alive” bill April 16, which criminalizes doctors who “fail to provide the appropriate medical treatment” to children born after an abortion attempt. Even the state government had to admit there has never been a case here since data began being kept in 2013. The bill’s point is to stigmatize abortion.
Defending the right to choose abortion is fundamental to a woman’s control of her own life and to winning full social, economic and political equality. This will strengthen the unity of the working class to fight against the unrelenting assaults of the employers and their government.
Since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision legalized abortion, opponents of women’s rights have chipped away at our access to abortion. Waiting periods, parental consent laws, unnecessary requirements imposed on clinics, restrictive time limits and other arbitrary regulations have been put into place in state after state.
As a result, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of abortion providers in Texas. Some 900,000 women of reproductive age now live over 150 miles from any clinic that provides abortions. And in 2017, Texas banned insurers from including coverage for abortion in comprehensive health insurance plans.
The assault on this right has been aided by the failure of women’s rights organizations and the labor movement to mobilize women and men to defend the right to choose abortion. There is majority support for this right in the U.S. But these groups tell us not to “rock the boat” and to just vote for Democrats, who will look out for us.
The fight for the right of women to family planning, including the right to safe birth control and abortion, is essential to women’s emancipation. And it is a key question for the working class. If women can’t fight shoulder to shoulder with their male co-workers, the labor movement is hobbled.
This is an international question for working people. The large outpourings of women in South Korea, Ireland, Argentina and elsewhere show it can be won. We can only win these and other demands through the independent organization and mobilization of working people.